New Delhi: Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi held discussions with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in connection with the night traffic ban on the national highway through Bandipur forest area. Rahul Gandhi said that he requested the chief minister to resolve the issue at the earliest as the night traffic ban caused difficulty to the public.
Rahul Gandhi added that he also discussed with the chief minister issues regarding the disaster relief fund distribution and rehabilitation of the flood victims. He made it clear that the chief minister told him the state government is discussing the night traffic ban issue with the central government and it will be resolved soon.
Rahul Gandhi held the meeting with the chief minister after several protests are being conducted in Wayanad demanding lifting of night traffic ban in Bandipur route. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is presently in New Delhi and he will be holding discussions with the union ministers on Tuesday.
Vijayan had assured him that they would be holding talks with the Centre on the matter and were trying to resolve it. He noted that the issue was causing lot of pain to Wayanad and Kerala.
"This is a very important matter and it needs to be tackled. The Chief Minister assured us that they are apprised of the situation and are trying to resolve it," he said.
The devastation caused due to the recent landslides in Wayanad during the heavy rains and the matters relating to compensation to the affected people were also discussed, he added. Vijayan is expected to hold talks with various Union ministers on the night traffic ban.
Meanwhile, the indefinite relay fast by the activists of the samara samithi, who are members of various youth organisations, entered the seventh day on Tuesday.
Students are expected to take out a march on Tuesday. Around 1,000 farmers and local people, including women, participated in the march from nearby Sultan Bathery to the Kerala-Karnataka border at Moolahalli demanding round the clock connectivity through the forest stretch of NH-766.
The Chief Minister is likely to take up the issue with Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadakar and Transport minister, Nitin Gadkari. Gandhi is visiting his constituency on October 3 to express solidarity with the protest, Congress sources said.
Expressing solidarity with the fasting youth, the Congress MP had on Sunday said the traffic ban has caused hardship to lakhs of people in Kerala and Karnataka and asked the central and state governments to safeguard the interests of local communities, while protecting the environment.
The movement of traffic through the tiger reserve is banned from 9 pm to 6 am to reduce disturbance to wildlife. Vijayan had suggested that construction of elevated stretch through the core critical tiger habitat.
However, Javadekar, in a letter to Vijayan this month, had stated that the state's recommendations had been discused at the committee of Secretaries and it was recommeded to maintain status quo on restriction of night time traffic through Bandipur Tiger reserve and strengthen the alternative route already available for night time traffic.
The minister also stated that the alternative route, though passing through forest area, was not a 'Critical Tiger Habitat' and can be suitably mitigated.
(With inputs from PTI)